Ask Ping!

February 5, 2010 11:27am | by:

Dear Ping,
What is your opinion of the level of parental involvement in professional motocross and supercross? I like to buy the DVDs, watch the races on TV whenever possible, and usually attend the supercross in Seattle and motocross in Washougal. In all cases I see a lot of coaching and managing by parents. I’m not against parents being involved in little league, but when it comes to professional sports shouldn’t the parents be in the grandstands? When I watch my Oregon Ducks laying waste to another team of young men I don’t have to put up with their parents on the playing field so why do I have to watch the antics of the parents of professional motocross riders? It’s really kind of embarrassing to watch. I remember Momma Millsaps coaching/scolding in some old video and wondering if it was a put on. Are those kids now cash cows that the adults want to keep under control?
Fat man on a little bike,

John C. Brennan

Dear John,
I was lucky enough to have a father that knew when it was time to let me be an adult. He was always there for me but he knew that I was in good hands with my mechanic (Randy Lawrence) and my team (Pro Circuit) at the time and he stepped back. This situation is a little different than many other pro sports because those athletes are, typically, older and have been through some amount of college already. Motocross racers are sixteen years old [for now] and trying to take in a lot of new things at once. But there are plenty of parents who are either counting on their kids for a paycheck or they just can’t get out of the way and let their kids become adults. That is sad and embarrassing. There are some unbelievable stories involving some of the sports top stars right now and the mess of a relationship they have with their parents. One of them even had to sign a contract with his father agreeing to pay him a yearly salary indefinitely unless he wanted to buy his way out of the contract! You’d be shocked at how many dysfunctional parent/rider relationships there are in the sport right now.

Dear Ping,
I was at Wal-Mart last week and walked by the $5 movie bin. A movie caught my eye. It is called Supercross Kings and it is video footage from MC's time A.K.A. before RC. In the second part of the movie it shows two riders go down in a corner. One of the riders has Fro's number and bike and looks like Fro. After me gets knocked over he runs up to the other guy, and while the guy (who I can't tell who it is) is on his hands and knees, kicks him super hard in the ribs. Fro looked like an NFL punter. My question to you as a team manager is how do you or other team managers handle and look at stuff like that? Great job with your team and your pick of riders. Will your team have anyone on the East Coast or are you Cali guys too cool to race out here?

TJ Smith
East, TX

Dear TJ,
That was indeed Jeff Emig that ran over and took a chop at Mike LaRocco during a supercross race back in the 1990s. If I remember correctly Mike got a bad start (that’s a given), came up the inside of him and they collided off a jump going into that turn. Jeff wasn’t happy about it and ran up to Mike like Thomas Morstead and stuffed his Tech 6s into his back. You probably saw a few other clips of riders getting into it back then. There was the infamous Ryan Hughes/Doug Henry debacle at Steel City. They were in round 12 of a 12-round street fight and a national motocross championship broke out. Henry won. Then there is some awesome footage of Larry Ward punching Jeff Matiasevich in the head after they cross the finish line. Classy. And if they really go back they’ll have the Chicken/Bradshaw takeout move from Vegas. It seems like that type of thing was a much more common appearance back then for some reason. Now if two riders even make contact we have officials reviewing video and name-calling and bikes being pushed over in the pits. It’s all very sissified. Maybe I’ll kick Mike LaRocco up in the manager’s tower this week for no good reason. You know, just to bring back a little old-school flavor. If you see a little guy in a white jacket getting tossed out onto the stadium floor in the broadcast you’ll know I kept it real.

P.S. Thanks. We aren’t doing east coast supercross this year but it isn’t because we’re too cool to race out here. We just don’t want to run out of money halfway through the nationals. See you in Freestone.


Long-time reader, first-time writer. I thought you would be the best resource to go to with this question since you know supercross and you have tested an electric bike. How well do you think an exhibition race on electric bikes during the half time of a supercross would go over? Maybe one of the electric bike manufacturers like Zero would provide ten bikes and let the first five riders (that don't make the main) from each of the LCQs go at it for five laps? Do you think the track would break the bikes in half? Would the spectators yawn to death? Or would it be a bigger deal than the KTM kids? Maybe if it were a success a major electric utility or GE would sponsor it! They keep saying that the electric bikes are the future; maybe this would be a start. Is this the stupidest question you have ever been asked?

Nic Tesla (aka Doug Fozo, South Bend, IN)

Dear Nic [Or Doug?],

  • Two jumper cables and a battery. That's all I need.
I’m not going to say that it is the “stupidest” question I’ve ever gotten but let’s just say that if someone from GE was willing to help provide the electricity I would hook up jumper cables to your nipples and cook you into a piece of well-done bacon just for suggesting it. Mmmm, bacon. Actually, as much as I love bacon, your idea could work. I think that electric bikes have a niche; I just don’t think that a supercross track is where that niche is. Those bikes don’t quite have enough power to pull the skin off a bowl of rice pudding so I think making a triple or even a finish line double is out of the question. And those smaller tires would be a handling nightmare on really tacky soil; most supercross tracks have a riding surface that is stickier than chewing gum. Once those bikes improve to where the riders could actually ride the track on them I think your idea could work. Right now I think it would look like a cheesy gimmick to buy some time between races. And wouldn’t you really rather watch four drunks in fat suits knocking each other over for a $20 gas card?


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